Saturday, January 2, 2016

Mystery vintage photo of figure on snowy steps

We haven't had even a hint of winter yet in southcentral Pennsylvania. So we'll have to settle for vintage photographs of snow. This sepia-toned shot measures four inches wide and features snow-covered outdoor steps, a figure who appears to be using a shovel and bushes and branches weighed down with wet snow.

To me, it looks like it's a photograph of a photograph. In the lower right, down the steps, there is cursive writing that must have appeared on the original photo. It states:

Lairdis [or Laindis, or Lairdia, or Laindia, or Lairdie or Laindie]

There's a date in the extreme lower right. But I cannot decipher it with any certainty. The second number is either an 8 or 9. The third number might be a 1 or 4 or 8.

1880s? 1910s? 1940s? [1940s was my first gut instinct, but the more I looked at it, the less I was sure.]

There's nothing written on the back of the photograph, so we have no further clues to go by.

What do you think?

Related snow posts

Friday, January 1, 2016

Nengajō postcard from Japan to celebrate the new year

I received this dandy postcard this week through Postcrossing, and it's a good one to post on New Year's Day. It's a nengajō (年賀状), which is a traditional New Year's postcard sent in Japan.

According to, a website about Japanese culture:
"The practice of sending New Year greetings is believed to date back to the eighth century in Japan, but there is no record of who sent the first greeting or when. The custom is thought to have grown out of the social convention of sending written seasonal salutations when people were unable to make personal visits. Today nengajō, or New Year’s cards, fulfill a similar role to the Christmas card in other countries, although they are sent out in much larger numbers and typically come in the form of postcards. On average, each household will receive around 50–100 nengajō. ... Rather than deliver them early, post offices hold on to nengajō cards so they can distribute them on the morning of January 1. In a traditional ritual of the New Year period, workers and temporary staff at the more than 20,000 post offices around the country hold an early morning ceremony before taking bundles of cards to local households by van, motorbike, or bicycle."
What a wonderful tradition!

Read more on this topic at, Wikipedia, and The Japan Times, which detailed nengajō do’s and don’ts in an article last month.

Have a Happy New Year. And consider making 2016 a year in which you write and send more letters and postcards!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Who wants sauerbraten, bacon muffins & tangle britches?

I've had far too few recipes posts on Papergreat this year. This is only the fifth one. I resolve to do much better in 2016! (That won't be my only official resolution, though.)

So let's close out 2015 with some recipes from Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking, a 48-page staplebound booklet distributed by the Dutchcraft Company of Gettysburg many, many moons ago.

First, an excerpt from the booklet's unattributed introduction:
"The Pennsylvania Dutch are a hard working people and as they say, 'Them that works hard, eats hearty.' The blending of recipes from their many home lands and the ingredients available in their new land produced tasty dishes that have been handed down from mother to daughter for generations. Their cooking was truly a folk art requiring much intuitive knowledge, for recipes contained measurements such as 'flour to stiffen,' 'butter the size of a walnut,' and 'large as an apple.' Many of the recipes have been made more exact and standardized providing us with a regional cookery we can all enjoy."

And now some recipes!

2 inch thick piece of chuck, pot roast or tender boiling beef. Place in dish or bowl and cover with solution of half vinegar and half water, put in two large onions sliced. Do this two or three days before the meat is wanted. On the day before it is to be cooked cut 3 or 4 slices of bacon in 1" pieces and chop fine 1 tablespoon of the onion which has been soaking in the vinegar. Cut holes in the meat 1 or 2 inches apart and stuff bits of bacon and chopped onion into the holes. Put the meat back in the solution, add 1 tablespoon whole cloves and 1 teaspoon whole allspice. Bake the meat as a pot roast in part of the solution, until tender. Use more of the solution, adding sugar to taste, in making the gravy which will be almost black.

Apple Ring Fritters
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 large apples
Sift dry ingredients. Add milk and egg. Beat well. Peel and core apples and slice in rings about ¼ inch thick. Dip rings in batter and drop into skillet containing ½ inch of hot melted shortening. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towel. Mix sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over fritters. Makes 16 to 20.

Bacon Muffins
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted shortening
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup bits crisp bacon
Sift flour, add sugar, salt and baking powder and sift again, add beaten egg and milk. Add melted shortening beating in quickly. Add bits of crisped bacon. Bake in hot (425 degree) oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with orange marmalade.

Tangle Britches
An old York County recipe
  • ½ pound butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • about 5 cups flour
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs beating well. Sift in the cinnamon and enough flour to make a stiff dough. Roll out the dough very thin on a floured board to about ⅛ inch thick. Cut into rectangular pieces 3 inches by 5 inches. Make 5 cuts lengthwise in the dough ½ inch apart and 4½ inches long, so that the rectangle remains in one piece. Fry in hot deep fat (360 F) for 2 minutes or until they bob up to the top of the hot grease. When dropping them in the fryer, pick up the 1st, 3rd and 5th strips and pull them upward. Let the 2nd, 4th and 6th sag downward so that in frying they get all fahuudelt (tangled) or as the Dutch say, all through each other. Dust with powdered sugar or dribble molasses over them and eat hot.

(That last one sounds a bit like funnel cake. Read some Tangle Britches memories at Helen Gobble's Bits and Pieces and More.)

Related goodies (mostly Pennsylvania Dutch)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

From the readers: Howlers, poker chips, monkey astronauts and more

Ashar is a big fan of refrigerator magnet poetry, which is about as ephemeral as it gets.

And now for something completely different — the final "From the Readers" post of 2015, featuring 20 percent more Crunchy Frog.

Best copy of "The Boys' Life Book of Outer Space Stories": Tom from Garage Sale Finds writes: "I have that same book. I picked it up at a garage sale this past year. How can you resist a book about an monkey astronaut? I know what you mean about books with lives. I've been meaning to write a post about the things I've found in books over the years."

And here is a bundle of additional great comments from Tom, whose thoughts and feedback I appreciate greatly...

19th century advertising card: Liebig Company's Fleisch-Extract: Tom writes: "As a kid, I loved the smell of bouillon cubes dissolving in hot water, but I never went as far as to suck on one."

I think everyone should try sucking on a bouillon cube at least once. It's very ... intense.

Thanksgiving postcard from 1914, plus a little guffaw: Tom writes: "The mysteries can drive you nuts. Things forgotten to time, never to be known."

Vintage Christmas postcard: "Kiss Me Quick!" Tom writes: "It's kind of creepy that light is shining through that little Dutch girl's head. It's like her skull cap is levitating."

Agreed! I almost mentioned the shadow of the girl's head in the original post, too. I don't think the postcard artist fully thought that through.

A 1910 postcard that was processed on Christmas Day: Tom writes: "I have some postcards from around the turn of the century that were postmarked after 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve. I too was surprised that they would have been working so late."

12 toys Mattel wanted you to buy for your kids in 1967: Tom writes: "Great stuff. I would love to have that Fright Factory Thingmaker for the graphics on the box alone. I never knew there was a Twiggy doll, and it's almost as thin as the real Twiggy!"

* * *

Cheerful Card Company can help you earn extra money for the holidays: There have been two new comments on this popular 2012 post.

Anonymous writes: "I am 87 years old and this was my second job. My first was selling Cloverine white salve from the same type of ad."

And Tommy Samaha writes: "I sold these as a child back in the 1950s. They were beautiful cards. You could even have your name printed on the cards. This company was a legitimate company."

* * *

A postcard mailed in 1910 and some Sunday night reading: Anne Hagberg of Laurel Cottage Genealogy writes: "I'm thinking 'Tiney' might be the dog's name. An odd spelling, of course."

* * *

1942 U.S. Civil Defense tips, courtesy Strack & Strine Funeral Home: Joan, in a possible attempt to poke fun at Yours Truly, writes: "Are calamity-howlers related to weather alarmists?"

Answer: Calamity Howlers are lesser individuals than Weather Alarmists. Weather Alarmists live to protect and serve, to let no potential snowflake go unmentioned. Calamity Howlers bring about chaos and panic and have no noble intentions.

As the holiday gift-buying season ramps up, consider opulent owls: Joan writes: "I want one very badly. But I have Some Concerns about who is painting it and the end results."

* * *

Illustration: "Revolving Poker Rack" from Pacific Game Company: Todd Scott writes: "I still keep a set of poker chips in this same box I got from my grandparents. Any idea how old it is? It is numbered 2043."

I think this particular set is circa 1970-1972.

* * *

Beautiful handmade bookmark and the "Alice and Jerry" readers: Janifa Prince writes: "I remember reading a book and one of the stories in that book was entitled Hastings Mills. I forgot the name of this book would love to remember the name and own a copy of it."

Janifa, here is a blog post on Vicki Lane Mysteries you might want to check out for further leads. Good luck in finding your book!

* * *

The 1970s: When air travel was like a big, wacky sitcom: Anonymous writes: "Is that Ricardo Montalbán? And where is Jennifer Aniston? Didn't she just do a commercial by the bar? Oh, wait, that was a different airline."

* * *

Kindertrauma to the rescue: It was Lon Chaney Jr., with a puppy: Sandi writes: "I wonder if the other scary movie you recall is The Dark Secret of Harvest Home. It was actually a two-part made-for-TV flick from the late 70s."

I don't think that's it, either. I would have remembered Bette Davis. (And Norman Lloyd was in it, too!) But keep the ideas coming!

* * *

Macmillan Reader presents a very 1950s in suburbia Christmas: Jean wrote in an email: "My mom [Janet Page] was an inker at Disney in the late 1930s and 1940s. She worked on Pinocchio, Bambi and Fantasia while there. She went on to do other illustrator jobs after she left Disney. We had many of her sketches that she'd bring home from work only to discover years later that she'd thrown them away! She didn't consider them to be worth anything. Hence I'm trying to track down whatever I can find. She passed away back in 2000."

Unfortunately, I had to tell Jean that I no longer have the copy of The Christmas Tree, featuring artwork by Page, that I wrote about in that 2013 post. If I did still have it, I would have sent it Jean's way. But I'll keep my eyes open for these books moving forward!

* * *

Mystery portrait taken in Littlestown, Pennsylvania: Anonymous writes: "I think it's a woman with white hair and a fancy black cap."

Interesting thought! I don't think that possible answer can be ruled out.

* * *

1913 Christmas postcard from A.M. Davis Company of Boston: L.F. Appel writes: "That is my article on I have been thinking of doing a new A. M. Davis article on my new blog/website."

Also in regard to this post, Sandi offers the following thought: "The signature looks like 'Sebastian B. Bishop' to me."

* * *

Saturday's postcard: Enjoy the view of Finhaut, Switzerland: Anonymous writes: "I have two of these stamps the 20 Helvetica on a envelope A. FRANCKE AG. BERN POST MARKED 1948 WHAT DO I HAVE."


Monday, December 28, 2015

"Use of power saws — why not?"

The red-ink note shown above was written on the last page of a copy of 1971's A Layman and Wildlife and A Layman and Wilderness by Tom Messelt.

The copy once belonged to H.A. Streed of Whitefish, Montana, who put one of his return-address labels on the inside front cover. Whitefish is host of the annual Huckleberry Days Arts Festival, which includes a huckleberry dessert bake-off contest.

Huckleberry Days will next be held on August 12-14, 2016, if you want to mark that on the spiffy new calendar you just received for Christmas.

But I digress.

Here's the interesting transcript of that red-ink note at the back of A Layman and Wildlife and A Layman and Wilderness. (I'll forgo the ALL CAPS nature of the text.)
"They Call It Progress"
1. Gypsy crew trail mtce [maintenance?] — why not?
2. Use of power saws — why not?
3. The "fly in the ointment" is the true lack of experience. To gain this is hard work along with some personal initiative.
4. A degree bars no one from work.
5. Jobs are competitive, and the feeling of security for some hangs in balance.
6. The big problem in the big picture is just too many people.
7. "Chinaization" is something I never want to see again, never in this country. Still we have a good start in that direction.

— On Progress —
"Bigger isn't necessarily better and more can be less."
(an old adage)
Thoughts on any of this? I don't reckon we'll ever know the context of these notes, but they're certainly intriguing.